Tai Nua, Chinese Shan in Vietnam

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People Name: Tai Nua, Chinese Shan
Country: Vietnam
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 110,000
World Population: 717,000
Primary Language: Tai Nua
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.19 %
Evangelicals: 0.17 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Tai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tai Nua are historically part of the great Tai race of Asia, which dispersed during the past millennia to now inhabit parts of China, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, and Thailand.

Although the Tai Nua are part of the official Dai nationality in China, they speak their own distinct language. They should not be confused with the identically named but different Tai Nua of Laos. Linguists have pointed out that Tai Nua is "a name given to at least two quite different southwestern branch groups." The Tai Nua profiled here are members of the Southwestern branch of the Tai language family, while the Tai Mao language spoken throughout Dehong Prefecture is similar to the Shan language of Myanmar.

Where Are they Located?

This Tai Nua group is mostly found in southern China, but also in northern Vietnam and Myanmar.

What Are Their Lives Like?

After a Tai Nua wedding ceremony the bridegroom goes to live with his bride's family. Traditionally he must take with him gifts of tea, rice, meat, bananas, four eggs, and two salted fish for his new in-laws. Upon arrival, the village elder takes the packets of tea and rice out to the road and calls on the spirits of heaven and earth to witness the marriage. He then ties a white thread seven times around the wrist of the bride and once around the wrist of the groom to indicate their unbreakable commitment to each other.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although they are nominally Theravada Buddhists, the Tai Nua have many aspects of animism and polytheism mixed into their beliefs. The very first Tai god was Shalou, the god of hunting. Before a hunt, they offered sacrifices to Shalou to avert danger and to ensure success in the hunt.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tai Nua people need to hear that Jesus Christ offers them so much more than the spirit world ever can offer them.

Prayer Points

Pray for at least 12 pioneer workers to go to the Tai Nua people in Vietnam with the gospel.
Pray for openness to the gospel among Tai Nua elders and commoners.
Pray for the Lord to send dreams and visions of the Risen Christ to these people who have very little chance to hear His name.
Pray for a disciple making movement to transform Tai Nua communities.

Text Source:   Keith Carey